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Metallica’s Lars Ulrich Is Confident Covering Sabbath and AC/DC, But Not “Qualified” for RUSH

"I think there's somebody more qualified to do that than me"

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lars ulrich neil peart
Lars Ulrich (photo by Raymond Ahner) and Neil Peart (photo via Wikipedia Commons)

    Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich is fine covering classic songs by such bands as Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and Deep Purple. Just don’t ask him to play anything by RUSH.

    Ulrich, whose drumming skills have been the subject of many debates among metal fans over the years, made the admission in a new interview with Howard Stern. The two were discussing Ulrich’s recent participation in the two tribute concerts for late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. When Dave Grohl asked Lars to play the shows, the drummer was enthusiastically onboard.

    Said Ulrich [as transcribed by Blabbermouth]: “Dave Grohl called me three or four months ago and asked me if I would partake in the Taylor Hawkins tribute shows at Wembley and at the L.A. Forum, and, obviously, before he was done explaining it, I just said, ‘Yes, Dave. I’ll be there. Just tell me what you want and I’ll show up with bells and whistles on.’”

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    At the first London show, Ulrich teamed up with Brian Johnson and members of the Foo Fighters to cover AC/DC songs. At the following Los Angeles show, Ulrich joined Sebastian Bach, Geezer Butler, and more for a couple of Black Sabbath covers. Lars said the performances went swimmingly, calling the opportunity to drum alongside the original Black Sabbath bassist “great fun.”

    One of the most notable moments of the L.A. tribute show was when RUSH’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson appeared to play “2112,” “Working Man,” and “YYZ” with Grohl, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, and Tool’s Danny Carey, respectively. Lars observed from the sidelines.

    “I love RUSH … if they had said, ‘Come up and play ‘2112’ with Alex and Geddy’, I’d go, ‘I think there’s somebody more qualified to do that than me,'” the drummer admitted.

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    When Stern pressed Ulrich about his ability to play the late Neil Peart’s drum parts, Lars gave a modest reply.

    “Could I do it? Obviously, playing with Alex and Geddy would be incredible,” Lars said. “Some of the guys, Chad Smith played and Dave played a couple of songs. It would be an uphill thing. It would take a lot of rehearsal, a lot of prep. ‘2112’ would probably be too much of a bite of the apple for me. But in terms of just feeling comfortable, and kind of doing the thing that exists sort of where I am, that AC/DC stuff is right in my fucking pocket. And I love that so much.”

    Stern then asked Ulrich about Led Zeppelin, to which Ulrich gave a vague answer, switching gears to Sabbath and Deep Purple. “I could do some of that, yeah. I could do the Deep Purple stuff, definitely do the Sabbath stuff. Obviously, I’ve studied all three of those for close to 50 years now, so that’s definitely in the wheelhouse. The first band I ever saw was Deep Purple. When I was nine years old, I went and bought a Deep Purple album the next morning. And Black Sabbath came soon after. Zeppelin was there also, but primarily Deep Purple and Sabbath. So when I say I’ve studied it, it’s just been there for 45, 50 years for me.”

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    In other news, Lars and Metallica recently announced a blockbuster 2023/2024 world tour in support of their forthcoming album, 72 Seasons. You can pick up tickets via Ticketmaster.

    Below you can revisit Ulrich performing Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut” with Sebastian Bach and Geezer Butler below.

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